Reporters on the job

STRICTEST SECURITY: Scott Baldauf says the security for the Powell visit to Pakistan was the tightest he's ever seen. "So much so," Scott says, "that I was assured by a US Embassy official that I would never see Mr. Powell himself, except on TV." Only reporters traveling with him, along with a few cable news organizations, would be present at the press conference in Islamabad yesterday. (page 1).

"The reason has little to do with the Pakistani leaders calling for jihad, or spiritual struggle, against America," Scott says. "Keep in mind that just three days before the World Trade Center attack, Afghan Northern Alliance leader Gen. Ahmad Shah Masood was killed in his own base camp by two Arab nationals posing as journalists, who had a bomb packed away in a television camera. Press conferences can be deadly."

simple service: Scott Baldauf says he's been to mariachi masses in San Antonio and Latin Masses in Manhattan, but the Catholic service in Rawalpindi's St. Francis Church was perhaps the most exotic of the bunch. (page 11).

"The church edifice itself was relatively plain," Scott says. "There were few candles, and no statuary. There weren't even any church pews. We all sat on the floor on cotton dhurrie rugs, men on one side, women on the other."

"The service was entirely in Urdu, the Pakistani national language, and all hymns were accompanied by an accordionlike harmonium and a tabla drum," Scott says. "And when the priest, Father Rafael Mahanga, gave the homily, it was empty of politics, and full of shukur, thanks to God for his blessings."

LONG-DISTANCE perceptions: Arie Farnam recently watched a TV program that showed a man being interviewed on a US street about what Americans expected from the rest of the world. The man told the interviewer: "The rest of the world should just shut up. People in other countries are used to tanks in their streets. We aren't. We are the guardians of freedom."

"Even as a die-hard Oregonian," Arie says, "my first reaction was that of an offended resident of the Czech Republic. There are no tanks in our streets, and there haven't been in years."

But a few days later, after a bomb threat against Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (page 7), "we had armored personnel carriers and dozens of police and soldiers in the very center of town to protect the radio stations."

Every night now, Czech TV broadcasts spots on how to behave during a military attack or chemical, biological, or nuclear disaster. These are strong concerns, because the Czech Republic is a US ally.

Let us hear from you.

Mail to: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 via e-mail: world@csmonitor.com

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